One-bid league a real possibility for Pac-12 Conference basketball

Just three seasons ago, the Pac-12 Conference sent a record seven teams into the 2016 NCAA Tournament field.

A year later, the Pac-12 had a league record 14 selections in the two-round NBA draft, including six in the first round.

It all seems like a distant memory.

With the start of conference play fast approaching — eight teams, including the Colorado Buffaloes at Arizona, kick off the Pac-12 schedule with four games on Jan. 3 — the Pac-12 is in very real danger of becoming a one-bid league for the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

Nine months after receiving just three bids to the 68-team field in 2018, the final two of which were among the field’s final at-large bids, the Pac-12 continues to lag behind its peers across the country. Arizona State, which climbed two spots to No. 18 in this week’s AP top 25, is doing its best to shoulder the load for the league and defeated Georgia, a projected second-division team in the SEC, by two points on the road Saturday. The Sun Devils also were set to begin the week with another solid road test Monday night at Vanderbilt.

ASU was the only Pac-12 team to receive votes in this week’s poll.

In the NCAA’s latest NET power rankings through Sunday’s game, ASU leads the Pac-12 contingent at No. 25. But Pac-12 fans have to scroll past the likes of Furman, Lipscomb and Murray State before reaching the league’s next entrant, which happens to be the Colorado Buffaloes at No. 46.

With finals and the holidays converging, it will be a light week for the league. Beyond the Sun Devils’ Monday evening matchup at Vanderbilt, the other Pac-12 games of the week include an injury-depleted USC squad visiting Santa Clara on Tuesday and UCLA, fresh of its home loss against Belmont, visiting Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Player of the Week

Before long the Pac-12 may have to rename its Player of the Week honor as the Sun Devils Player of the Week.

For the third time in the past four weeks, an ASU player captured the weekly award, with sophomore guard Remy Martin getting named the league’s Player of the Week Monday.

Like the CU Buffaloes, who rallied from 17-points down at New Mexico last week, ASU turned in an impressive rally at Georgia, with Martin matching his career-high with 21 points in an 18-point comeback by the Sun Devils. Martin also finished with a career-best eight rebounds with five assists, and his consecutive field goals with a little more than three minutes remaining gave ASU its first lead at Georgia.

ASU senior forward Zylan Cheatham won the honor two weeks ago and freshman Luguentz Dort won three weeks ago.


UCLA freshman Shareef O’Neal, the son of Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal, had surgery last week to correct a heart ailment that was detected during the preseason. The younger O’Neal is redshirting and expected to resume his career next season…UCLA guard Jaylen Hands, who became the first Bruins guard to post three consecutive games with at least 10 assists before recording seven in the loss to Belmont, begins the week tied for 14th in the nation with 6.8 assists per game. Denver native and Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins ranks third at 8.4 assists per game.

Pat Rooney: or